Waldoboro Police Chief William Labombarde recognized two of the town’s police officers for bravery during a meeting of the Waldoboro Board of Selectmen on Tuesday, July 24.
Officers Thomas Bartunek and John Lash received medals for their actions.
Labombarde first presented Bartunek with medals for bravery and for saving a woman’s life during a house fire at 2844 Friendship Road in December 2013.
Bartunek’s wife and daughter joined him for the presentation.
“This is kind of emotional because it’s part of the job, but it’s really beyond that,” Labombarde said.
Labombarde said the awards were long overdue.
Bartunek and Friendship Fire Chief Kevin Benner responded to a report of the fire early Dec. 27, 2013 and found the 1,000-foot-long driveway impassable due to 2 feet of snow, according to Labombarde and to The Lincoln County News’ coverage of the fire.
The two plowed to the home with Benner’s personal vehicle. Bartunek forced entry through a side door, found the homeowner, Carol Clinton, and brought her to safety.
Bartunek ensured no one else was inside the building. When he exited the building, the windows blew out of the area he had rescued Clinton from moments before.
Clinton died in 2015.
Labombarde then presented a medal of valor and a purple heart to Lash for his actions early Jan. 22, 2017. Responding to a domestic disturbance on River Bend Road, Lash was shot in the chest by Jon Alspaugh, 57.
Lash returned fire and killed Alspaugh. Lash’s ballistic vest largely absorbed the impact of the gunshot. He was treated and released at a local hospital.
“It was the first and only time I had to go to a family’s house at 1 a.m. and advise them their dad and husband had been shot in the line of duty,” Labombarde said.
“These medals are for actions above and beyond the call of duty,” Labombarde said.